Category: Books for Kids

Ballet for beginners – and their wistful moms

As a budding young ballerina, I was simply in love with A Very Young Dancer by Jill Krementz. I used to just lose myself in those marvelous photos until the pages were as dog-eared as the copies in the used bookstores that now carry it. So when I saw the new Ballet for Beginners by Mary Kate Mellow and Stephanie Troeller, it brought me right back to that same place–dreaming that one day I’d be the girl being whisked off to the Kingdom of Sweets on a magic sleigh with a prince and a mouthful of marzipan Ballet For...

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The Dread Crew – What’s a summer reading list without pirates?

After falling in love with Canadian mom Kate Inglis’ writing at her personal blog Sweet Salty, it was no surprise to me that she’d write a book. But what I didn’t expect was that it would be the fantastically scrumptious morsel of kid fiction, The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods, now finally available in the USA. [see the giveaway after the jump!] The story begins with the pirates of the Dread Crew lost in the Maritime woods, with self-proclaimed pirate tracker, Eric Stewart, hot on their tail. We then follow his wonderful adventures, all of which are illustrated...

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Sandra Boynton introduces the best book character EVER

Sandra Boynton’s newest character in her newest book is the sweetest, funniest, cutest critter ever: My kid. And not because his sister drew him in with my missing Sharpie. I just love Are You A Cow?, a customizable (yes, customizable) board book by world-famous, best-selling children’s author Sandra Boynton. If you don’t recognize the name, you can still probably recite her books by heart– Oh Me Oh My Oh Dinosaurs, Barnyard Dance, and The Belly Button Book just to name a few. And now, your baby can gnaw on the perfect family heirloom, a board book featuring his name,...

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D is for Duuuuuude

There’s some sort of unspoken rule that a baby can’t be born until someone has purchased the little dude or dudette an ABC book. But let’s say you know some hipster, emo, goth, inked, or punk parents. Calming pastels and fuzzy bunnies are going to totally clash with that Clash onesie and those tiny checkerboard Vans. Allow me to introduce the Alternative ABCs by Dave Parmley, Eric Ruffing, and graphics by 13th Floor Designs. This totally sick board book is ready made for rock star parents and their cool little future guitarists and skateboarders. B for Bear? No way....

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Alphabeasties, not just for the next generation of Type Nerds

I run with a tough crowd of Type Nerds, the kind who can spend an hour discussing the joys of Helvetica, the horrors of Comic Sans, and play an iPhone game called “Cheese or Font” (yes, this really is a game).  But even for those of us who can’t tell a serif from a sans serif, you’ve gotta check out the Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types alphabet book. It’s like no alphabet book I’ve ever seen and with three kids, that’s saying something.  Created by two Minnesota graphic designers, Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss, Alphabeasties features animals made from type,...

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Everybody needs a rock

Everyone always asks where we find children’s books, and the truth is, the best ones always come recommended by my mother. How lucky we are to have a teacher in the family! This past weekend, my four year-old grabbed Byrd Baylor’s  Everybody Needs a Rock off her bookshelf, and was instantly smitten. This lovely story is that rare one that doesn’t talk down to kids, it doesn’t speak in rhymes as it describes how important it is that every kid has one special rock in their lives. Even more than a tricycle. Even more than a three-room playhouse. The...

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Easy Readers

Even though I homeschool, I’m more than okay with farming out some subjects. Especially if my kids will do them happily on their own, instead of fighting with me for an hour. So, when Headsprout asked if my five year-old beginner reader would like to test out their phonics-based Early Reading Series, I jumped at the chance.  I know my son isn’t rushing over to the computer because of his innate love of phonics. Rather, it is the fact that the program makes it fun for him to practice things like his “ish” words. And this isn’t just a bunch...

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Girls Gone Green – Get ready to be inspired

I admit that when I first saw Lynn Hirshfield’s new book, Girls Gone Green, I mistakenly assumed it was a collection of tween and teen celebrities sharing how they use eco-conscious nail polish or consume locally grown avocados in their California Rolls vegetables prepared by their personal chef. Much to my surprise and delight, I was completely wrong. Instead, I found a fantastic compilation of stories from real live tween and teen girls who are making a huge difference on the eco frontlines. Take 10 year-old Millie Passacantando who is dedicated to saving polar bears, and has a thriving...

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How one coloring book can make hundreds of kids happy

My nephew was hospitalized at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia when he was around two and I am forever grateful to the amazing staff who helped cure him — and to all of the special facilities that help children. I guess that’s why I am so blown away by RxArt. This non-profit organization pairs up with some incredibly famous contemporary artists like William Wegman, Frank Stella and Sol LeWitt in an effort to transform sterile hospitals and outpatient centers into places popping with creativity and color.  There’s even a CAT scan machine designed by one of my favorite artists,...

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A few of my favorite things, now in flashcard form

More than 100 awesome baby gifts abound in our new Baby Shower Gift Guide, but if that isn’t enough for you, then you might want to add the new My Favorite Things Flash Cards to your wish list. Petit Collage creator Lorena Siminovich’s gorgeous designs are translated into 26 sturdy flashcards, with a picture and word for each letter of the alphabet. Aside from their lovely simplicity, the cards, which function equally well as educational entertainment for small hands and as a decorative nursery room accent, feature slightly atypical words compared to what you typically see in an alphabet...

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We built this city on nouns and verbs

The first thing I thought when I checked out the Grammaropolis website is that it’s like Grammar Rock and the Mr. Men books had an adorable love child. You’ve got the catchy music, the little cartoon parts of speech (the verb is a superhero ready for action, and the interjection kind of looks like a cheerleader), and then a variety of ways for kids to get their language on. Watch the video–my favorite part is when Gramma pops up to say thanks for the song and they’re all, No, Gramma, it’s not Gramma Ropolis, it’s Grammaropolis! You’ll only have...

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But, MY Teen Tells Me Everything. (Uh-huh.)

Why are we talking about teens? Because every single one of your tiny bundles of joy are going to grow up to be one, and you might as well know what you’re getting into. Trust me, you’re going to want to know this stuff. In 35 Things Your Teen Won’t Tell You, So I Will, Ellen Pober Rittberg gives us some tactics to use with our teens. Some of them seem pretty common sense, like Rule 10, Use your approval and disappointment, which I think parents generally do without thinking about it. Your child does something you don’t like?...

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Olivia – the book becomes a show becomes a book

We’re huge Olivia fans ’round these parts – the book is a well-worn favorite at bedtime, and the Olivia TV series is a special treat. So I was so happy to see a new book hit the shelves recently starring our favorite difficult swine – Olivia Acts Out. This story is actually based on the teleplay from the series, but it doesn’t matter a bit. It’s a cute story about Olivia trying to make the most of her lame part in the school play, reminding us that there are no small parts in theater, only small pigs. With more...

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A pocket full of books

Games on the iPhone are nice, having books on hand make you feel a little less guilty about trying to keep the kid occupied on mile-long supermarket checkout lines. Now you can always have books on hand without carting around pounds of hardbacks: PicPocket Books adapts great kids’ books for the iPhone, and they start at just a buck apiece in iTunes. You can read the stories aloud or turn on the built-in narration, and kids can learn along as each spoken word is highlighted, too. Sure, there’s a little bit of (subtle) animation, in some stories, and sometimes...

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Not your same old Nutcracker story

We’ve amassed quite the collection of Christmas-themed picture books, but I’m always on the lookout for cool new titles to replace some of the ones we were given when the kids were little (I’m looking at you, Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Merry Christmas). Perennial CMP favorite publisher, and beloved 2009 Holiday Gift Guide sponsor, Chronicle Books, has just released the new A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas which looks like it will make a lovely addition to our collection of holiday stories. With a whimsical new spin on the original tale (you know, a girl, her prince, and a whole lot of...

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Last minute gift idea – A book of the month club with no lame choices

Last year, we recommended the Gift Lit book of the month series as a cool children’s gift, and it still is. But it makes smart last-minute gift for a fully grown adult too. You can just tell the thoughtful book choices in each series have been curated by a panel of librarians and publishing experts, and not someone trying to push best-sellers or remnant books. I know quite a few relatives of mine who would enjoy that history series of books; the favorites for women actually do justice to the category name; and the food + wine series has...

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A trip around the world this Christmas for $19.99? Sign me up.

I don’t do much overseas traveling. Okay, none, really. And I can’t even blame my kids, since I barely did it before they were born, either. A passionate desire for a reduced carbon footprint or sheer laziness? I’ll let you decide.   But, I have to admit, my kids might like to venture out of the country once in a while. So, while I intend to remain close to home this holiday season, the least I can do is expose them to the rest of the world from the comfort of our story corner.  Barefoot Books now offers a lovely...

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Love the children’s book? Get the artwork.

We’ve been keeping our eyes open for those extra special holiday gifts, like for a baby’s first Christmas. I’m very intrigued by Picture Book Originals which offers which offers original illustrations and signed giclee prints from children’s picture books. It’s not like you’re going to find Maurice Sendak here – or not yet, anyway. Publishing vet and mom of two Anna Johnson has assembled five artists for starters, including a nice selection of signed Rosemary Wells illustrations which Max & Ruby fans like my kids will appreciate. Prices go from very affordable up into the hundreds, but there’s also...

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Oh! what a cool book

Browsing the Picasso Museum gift shop in Barcelona last week (I know, totally rubbing it in) I came across the most wonderful little book called Oh! by Josse Goffin. I had an idea that my two year-old wouldn’t be able to put it down and indeed, that’s just how it’s played out. Each spread has a colorful, happy, quirky illustration of one thing — say, a smiling moon — but when you open a flap it reveals the moon transforming into something totally new and wonderful and weird, like a snake holding a paddle ball racket. Each page conceptually...

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And then he ate the naughty children. The end.

Pat the Bunny is the essential baby gift book for about a zillion people–including me–so it’s not surprising that it’s spawned a number of parodies. Now there’s one more to add to the list: The very funny Pat the Beastie. Henrik Drescher’s outrageous “pull and poke book” is actually a cautionary tale about being nice to pets, although kids may be too busy jiggling the beastie’s eyes or pulling out his worm boogers (seriously, ew) along with Paul and Judy to get the message. This isn’t one for kids who are easily freaked out, but my two and four...

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More scanimation, please.

I am so excited about artist Rufus Butler Seder’s third “scanimation” book, Waddle!. Um, I mean my kids are. If you’re not familiar with these so cool they’re almost magic books, they blend engaging rhyming prose about animals with graphic images that give the illusion of animating when the previous page is turned. My kids can hardly resist acting out the alliterative, evocative descriptions, whether they’re prancing like a pig or slithering like a snake, and it is probably the only thing keeping them from fighting over who gets to turn the page next. Plus the cheeky ending about...

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Let’s hear it for the girls!

CD audiobooks, or what I still call “books on tape,” are my secret weapon against boredom in the car. Our newest gem is Tell Me a Story 3: Women of Wonder which follows in the footsteps of its much loved predecessors, Tell Me a Story and Tell Me a Story 2: Animal Magic. And, as the mother of two girls, I am thrilled that the heroes of these new stories by Amy Friedman are actually heroines. In just over an hour’s drive, my kids move from Cambodia to Turkey to the old, Wild West in these six stories culled...

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Go ahead, kids, draw on the art

Even though I realize that the amazing Charley Harper Coloring Book is intended for younger audiences, it’s so sophisticated that I can’t help but want to save a couple of pages for me. American illustrator Charley Harper’s “minimal realism” style, which I gushed about after seeing his ABC book, makes for a wonderful coloring book. The pictures are detailed but not fussy, which means my older kids and littlest scribbler can all enjoy deciding what colors to make his happy dog, little bird or delicate ladybug. And, as someone whose refrigerator is absolutely covered in my kids’ works of...

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A female pirate? Ahoy.

We love Oliver Chin, author of the Tales from the Chinese Zodiac Series. In his latest book, Baltazar and the Flying Pirates, Chin teams up with illustrator (and blogger!) Justin Roth in this, um, high-flying tale of adventure and fortune. The best part? The head pirate, Captain Redlocks, is a redheaded woman. Oh yes she is. And she captains the Cutlass, the fastest ship in the skies. Because not only men can be all swarthy and adventurous and brandish swords and wear cool black eye patches. (Does anyone besides me see a hat tip to My Lady’s Cutlass, the...

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The gift the kids will love to ruin

With the kids heading back to school, the birthday party circuit will be starting up again. If your kid is old enough to read, you may understand my temptation to give other kids books rather than more toys. The problem is that while their parents might love you for it, not every kid is delighted to receive a book. Except that every kid will be delighted to receive this book: Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal. It’s a masterpiece manual of embracing creativity and bucking the ordinary, and entirely made to be destroyed. Really! So yes, by all means, write...

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Personalized children’s books you could hang on the walls

I’m pretty sure there’s nothing most kids love more than seeing their name or likeness in anything, hence the slew of personalized books that cram my daughter’s bookshelves. Her most recent birthday gift was a personalized book found at MJM Books, a cool company founded by three brothers. (Matt, Jeff, and Mike – get it?)  What’s special about these custom books is that they incorporate real artwork by real artists – no clip art or photoshopping at all. The cute stories all made to order and printed on recycled paper, seamlessly infuse your kiddo’s name and likeness; all you...

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Read it again (and again and again and again)

We’ve all been there; the kid has found his Most Favorite Book Ever, and he wants to hear it over and over. Sure, you were a patient and loving model parent the first 5,000 times, but after that I think you get a pass. With One More Story, not only your kid get his book fix, he can start learning how to read on his own, too. Their online library of awesome children’s books (about 50 so far of both old classics and new favorites) allows your child to view and listen to the actual book pages on screen,...

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Comicon fans, this one’s for you. Or your kids.

From skateboard and sneaker design to children’s picture books, Australian artist Luke Feldman has created quite a cult following of his waif-like illustrated characters known as Skaffs. They hang in the Cartoon Art Museum, they delight hipster animation fans, and now they come to life in the vibrant children’s book Chaff n’ Skaffs: Mai and the Lost Moskivvy, created along with illustrator and co-author Amanda Chin. Mai (the lead Skaff in this story) heads on an outrageous adventure with her strange, large, round, gray, top hat-wearing Chaff pal and escort Moskivvy, the lost Australian mosquito, while meeting monks and...

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A gift for the littlest graduate (or maybe even bigger ones)

If you’re looking for a graduation gift for the preschooler in your life – or even the high schooler who’s not so cool she can’t appreciate a sweet children’s book –  Peep: A Little Book About Taking a Leap gets a big thumbs up from me. Maria van Lieshout’s charming story of a baby chick trying to follow his mom down off a big scary curb wlll captivate kids with the old “try, try again” theme. Think The Little Engine that Could meets the Mo Willems’ pigeon books, but without the edge. I love the adorably sparse art direction...

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Rabbit season. Duck season. Rabbit season. Duck season.

The wonderful Duck! Rabbit! is the newest book from the prolific Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who you might know for children’s books like Little Pea or even her wonderful adult book, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. In this title, she’s teamed up with pirates-and-monsters artist Tom Lichtenheld to breathe new life into the classic duck/rabbit optical illusion. Are those phalanges a duck’s bill or a rabbit’s ears? Is the eye facing left or right? The (heated) discussion continues between two unseen narrators on every page. Though she has no opinion regarding whether it’s a DUCK! or RABBIT! my daughter likes it best when I change up...

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